Saturday, July 25, 2009

El Niño Pez (The Fish Child)

The second movie by Lucia Puenzo, after her great XXY, is totally unexpected as the story is quite different to what I imagined according to the buzz and trailer. Based on the book Puenzo wrote when she was younger, this is a not too complex story about the need and what you’re willing to do for personal freedom.

I have to share with you all what I found most amazing; in the book the story is narrated by the dog! Well, I just imagine if the director had chosen to keep the movie narrated by a dog, that would have been something quite interesting to see how can be done. But the film follows a non-linear narrative of present and past until both tempos meet and the story flows forward up to the end, and no one narrates the story.

Perhaps for some and according to what I read in the net, the film may seem complex with many themes going on. I believe that if you find the story complex could be because the extraordinary editing that makes the story even more twisted with some great touches of the thriller genre. But for me that’s exactly what makes this film out of the ordinary.

Most scenes are filmed with minimum lighting and some not usual angles; thus, gives the impression that the viewer is inside the film like a participating intruder which makes you feel emotions that complete whatever is happening in the screen. Dialogue is not that important and has many incomplete sentences that finish with actors’ expressions and/or viewers imagination.

On the surface this is a story of strong love between two young women, but you will soon notice that the movie is not about that love. The love is the propeller of everything that happens in the story, but is totally secondary to the need to be free from everything that surrounds both of them.

So what you will see in the screen? You will see a privileged young woman Lala (Ines Efron – the same actress of XXY) that’s totally in love with young Paraguayan housemaid, La Guayi (Mariela Vitali). La Guayi came to the house when she was 13 and now 6 years after, both are about the same age and both are in love. But La Guayi’s life is not easy as she has a not so happy past and living in Buenos Aires is never easy for foreigners that willingly or not are forced to do many things, including sleeping with Lala’s father and other men that helped her when she first arrived. They want to leave and go to Paraguay, so Lala is selling things from her wealthy house to have enough money for the trip and to built a house near the lake in La Guayi’s small village in Paraguay. But nothing comes easy for this pair … until the happy end.

The movie touches quite a few subjects like incest, lesbian love, murder, police/prison corruption, xenophobia, class differences, indigenous population magical stories, punishment just because who you are and how you look like, the so common “tradition” of males in the household sleeping with the maids, and several others. But you have to see how flawlessly Puenzo blends these so diverse themes into one simple story about the desire to be free and discovering how much you are willing to do to obtain it and to stay together.

I find Puenzo’s second film a lot stronger than the first; not only because of the story but also for her visual style and how she flawlessly handled what could have been a very difficult film. Still, I would just have love if the dog narrated the story! Lol! This is another film that totally mesmerizes me and another great female director from the Latin American region that’s developing her own style. Bravo!!!

The movie is more art cinema that her previous film, so there has to be many that will not enjoy the flashbacks and will have some difficulty to follow the story. But if you appreciate good serious cinema with great tech specs, then I suggest you do not miss this film even if you do not particularly like the lesbian interest genre.

I was expecting a “normal” lesbian interest movie. This film definitively is not the regular fare in the genre, but I know that many that like the genre will be interested in watching and I suggest to lower your expectations about the lesbian content and perhaps you will enjoy this great film that goes beyond the traditional love affair between two women.

Big Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion

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